Five Deceptive Apologetic Strategies

[Written by John W. Loftus] The social sciences (which broadly speaking includes psychology) have shown us that people hold to unrecognized contradictory beliefs and that they can deceive themselves to accept their conscious beliefs despite the evidence. People have asked me from time to time if Christian apologists lie to defend their faith and I have repeatedly said that even though there are some Christians who do so, most Christian apologists are sincere believers. I still think that. But what's really going on is that these Christian defenders have become experts at deceiving themselves first. They are therefore deceiving others because they are deceiving themselves.

My task is to show them this is what they're doing. It's very hard to convince the deceived that they are deceiving themselves though. They don’t take too kindly to my doing so. They use several deceptive apologetics strategies and they use them all really well. The following apologetic strategies are used by defenders of the Christian faith to deceive. They are used to convince themselves against the evidence. They are used to convince others to embrace Christianity. Don't buy into their spiel.

1) They deceive themselves by having too many double standards. I articulated eight of them in my opening debate statement vs David Wood. [READ THIS LINK!]

2) In the midst of objections to the contrary apologists demand that unless I can show their faith is logically impossible they have an epistemic warrant to believe. This is what I called the "merely possible" or the "not impossible" defense strategy in my book Why I Became an Atheist. [READ THIS BOOK!] At every crucial juncture the apologist will say that despite what is most probable, their faith is still not shown to be impossible. I argued over and over in my book that the more a believer has to revert to what is merely possible rather than what is most probable, then the less likely their faith is true. All these apologists have left is a mere possibility. Right, it’s STILL possible there’s a Loch Ness Monster too, and that he’s smart enough to evade our detection methods.

3) Christian defenders need a serious Reality Check. [READ THIS LINK!] They use so many blatantly faulty apologetic strategies it's patently obvious they are deceiving themselves. It is as clear as day but they’d rather throw dust in the air to cloud the skies.

4) Christian defenders regularly denigrate science and reason and instead punt to a faith that goes way beyond any possible evidence there might be. Why? Because the sciences debunk Christianity, that’s why. [READ THIS LINK!] Christians accept what the sciences tell us in every area except a few limited ones that contradict their holy superstitious book. How’s that for being reasonable? Who in their right mind would ever choose what ancient superstitious pre-scientific people wrote over the results of the sciences?

5) All they can do is repeatedly use the Omniscience Escape Clause Card, which is the joker of the deck, a useless card. [READ THIS LINK!]

So when I point out the social sciences tell us that we believe and defend that which we prefer to be true these apologists don’t get it. They have responded by 1) Attacking the social sciences (ala Paul Manata, which is par for the course); 2) Replied with the “You Too” informal fallacy, which completely ignores the case I have presented, as if that solves the problems related to their faith; and 3) Admitted that while people do believe and defend that which they prefer to be true they are the exceptions to the rule. But how can all of them be the exceptions to the rule if that is the rule, especially when considering the five deceptive strategies enumerated above? Balderdash.

But then, this is how delusional people are forced into arguing, and it’s plain as day to the rest of us what they are doing. They are deceiving themselves. They believe and defend that which they prefer to be true. And they will do this even though it means having many double standards, forcing the skeptic to prove their faith impossible (which is an impossible standard), ignoring a serious reality check for what is the true state of apologetics; repeatedly denigrating science and reason; and repeatedly play the omniscience escape clause whenever they find themselves facing a difficult problem.

It's a delusion folks, and these defenders of the faith deceive themselves in order to believe because it is what they prefer to believe. This case is closed.

[First Posted 8/5/10]


Dan Wilkinson said...

Number 3 seems a bit circular to me (and yes I read the link!).

It seems as if you're saying Christian apologists are deceiving themselves (and others) because they are using "blatantly faulty apologetic strategies" and are in denial of reality. That may or may not be true, but it sounds like all you're saying in point 3 is that Christian apologists are deceiving themselves because they're wrong and that they're wrong because they're deceiving themselves!

Anonymous said...

Dan, the fact that these apologetic strategies are clearly faulty is strong evidence that the apologists are deceiving themselves.

Papalinton said...

Hey John
You say: ..."I argued over and over in my book that the more a believer has to revert to what is merely possible rather than what is most probable, then the less likely their faith is true."

Theists sometime say that their god is possible, but no one goes to church to worship a possibility.
The more you think about it the more tenuous the thread, of the substance of christian beliefs, becomes.
The irony is palpable.

Dan DeMura said...

For me I think this is the thing that amazes me with Christian apologetics... and I was guilty.

I think that's why if you really look at Christian Apologetics most do not spend time working to prove their own faith "True" instead they set out to prove everything else false (including other faith systems) because if they can do THAT, then they feel better about their "faith" ... but it is a circle and double standard.

Ignerant Phool said...

I like this post, well said.

Rob said...

John, I like these kinds of (for want of a better word) meta-apologetics posts. I'm beginning to detect the seed of a new scholarly study taking root here of apologetics itself: its techniques, goals, rhetorical strategies, and so forth. It seems like a deeper level of analysis than just going after apologetic arguments themselves.

Am I reading you correctly? I hope so, because it seems to me there is a huge need for such scholarship.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Rob, that's where I'm headed. We'll see where it ends. Cheers.